Turkey: The Inveterate Candidate

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    • Presentation speakers
      • Alaaddin F. Paksoy, Anadolu University, Eskişehir, Turkey


    Turkey is the only inveterate EU membership candidate. No country has waited at the front door of the EU as long as Turkey yet. There are different reasons behind this and they make the issue interesting to contemplate. Turkey’s most recent failed attempt to become a member of the European Union in the first decade of this century occasioned a great deal of soul searching and comment amongst European intellectuals, media commentators and political actors. It opened up a whole series of discussions about what it meant to be European and about the nature of the essence of the European Union and the idea of a united Europe. It also occasioned much reflection on the historical relations – and boundaries – between Europe/ the West and the Ottoman Empire / Turkey / the East. Whilst all these discussions were challenging and valuable in highlighting complex issues of identity and place – Who is European? Where is Europe? Who is not European, and so on – there were some other areas of enquiry that set off different concerns. One of these was the very different perspectives or approaches to the subject of Turkey’s accession that could be found amongst different members of the European Union. So, for example, there were some differences between the ways in which the British political establishment, including the media, looked at the question of accession and the French or German establishment. Although all, in one way or another, sought to place the discussion within the context of a wider discussion about the EU’s future identity and the rationale of European integration (Beck & Delanty, 2006, p. 11; Tekin, 2008; Aksoy, 2009; Wimmel, 2009; Kylstad, 2010; Papathanassopoulos & Negrine, 2011), at base the discussion was about the nature of Europe and of Turkey as the ’other’. In addition to Turkey’s different status compared to the EU membership candidacy processes of other countries, there is also an awkward relationship between the EU and the UK, and inevitably the British media. Therefore, this study seeks to present an analytical framework which draws on the notion of ’a positive Other’ while explaining the representation of Turkey’s EU bid in the British media. The paper discusses the inadequacy of Orientalism and Self/Other nexus to understand the context in the British coverage and highlights the ’essentialist’ and ’functionalist’ approaches in its attempt to explain the differences within the EU in exploring the fundamentals of the EU and the view about Turkish membership. The study seeks to explore how Turkey’s EU bid was represented in the British media by focusing on one main research question, namely, ’How was Turkey’s EU bid represented in the British media?’ In order to answer this question the study looks at the coverage of different important periods in Turkey-EU relations between 1999 and 2006. The news items published in these periods by six news organizations from the British media will be analyzed by using quantitative and qualitative content analysis.